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Spotlight San Diego Arts

Pop Music

February 17, 1988|HILLIARD HARPER

Downtown night life could get a much-needed shot in the arm if current talks succeed in launching a series of concerts, lectures and films at the usually dark California Theatre.

Middle-of-the-road pop music and rhythm and blues acts would predominate under plans put forward to use the 61-year-old theater more often. As many as 10 to 15 events a month are envisioned, said a principal in the group that is negotiating with the theater.

"We want to be involved in restoring downtown," Bob Stein said. "We hope to see the theater fit back into downtown, instead of being a casualty."

Stein, one of three partners negotiating with the theater management, formerly operated the Beverly Theater in Los Angeles' Wilshire District, where he booked acts such as Anita Baker, The Temptations, the Four Tops, Patti Labelle and Cyndi Lauper.

Stein plans to book more mellow acts for the California, however. "We see San Diego as a more laid-back city than Los Angeles," he said.

One type of music that won't be heard at the California is heavy metal. Stein, who helped open Cinema 21 and the Grossmont Cinema in the 1960s, believes heavy metal rock is inappropriate for the 1,800-seat former movie palace.

If all goes well, Stein hopes to have his first concert in the theater in March. But so far no contract has been signed with officials of the theater, which is part of an estate trust left by the late Ariel Wharton Coggeshall.

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